Trailblazing comforting online choral video performances at the outset of the current pandemic, VOCES8 presents Infinity, a new disc with a soothing, meditative space-inspired theme. Evocatively dubbed “the Rolls-Royce of British a-cappella ensembles,” this eight-voice choir with a 15-year international career enjoys transcending genres. On this record they render the scores of composers of alternative, film, electronic and contemporary classical music.
The 15-track program includes arranged excerpts from film scores interspersed with a medieval song and eight commissioned works. Collectively, the music admirably showcases VOCES8’s clean, well-controlled, precision English vocal ensemble sound, yet one with character, personality and not without warmth.
Jóhann Jóhannsson’s A Pile of Dust is an example of what one can expect on the album. Driven by the ensemble’s vocal pacing, its climactic middle section miraculously builds relentlessly higher and higher before just as relentlessly slowly resolving, settling down in quiet half notes. Other highlights include In the Shining Blackness (2016), London composer Benjamin Rimmer’s searching, challenging-to-sing double-SATB score. In keeping with the outer space theme, Nainita Desai’s tonal My Mind is Still, for voices, solo violin, piano and bowed vibraphone, is apparently sprinkled with fragments of recorded sound from Sputnik, humanity’s first satellite.
I found singer-songwriter and electronic producer Kelly Lee Owens and Sebastian Plano’s Find Our Way, skillfully arranged by Jim Clements, particularly moving. Exquisitely sung by VOCES8, it was so reassuring after a rough day that it required a third listen.